Imposter Syndrome and Improving Your Self-Confidence

woman working with her laptop

“I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”

—Pulitzer Prize winner John Steinbeck

According to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, “impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome, perceived fraudulence, or impostor experience) describes high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalize their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or impostor.” Self-doubt and low self-esteem are often chronic issues for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD). MedlinePlus reported that risk factors for developing SUD include various mood disorders, “a stressful or chaotic lifestyle, and low self-esteem.” 

Imposter Syndrome Can Impact Your Productivity

You might find that your low self-worth impacts your professional life and productivity. The previously mentioned paper in Journal of General Internal Medicine went on to state that “people with impostor syndrome struggle with accurately attributing their performance to their actual competence (i.e., they attribute successes to external factors such as luck or receiving help from others and attribute setbacks as evidence of their professional inadequacy).” You may feel like you do not deserve the acknowledgment and praise of your coworkers or supervisors. The increased sense of pressure or chronic stress can cause the following:

  • An inability to focus
  • Fear of being “found out”
  • Constantly feeling like your work is not good enough
  • Intrusive thoughts, cravings

Most people experience at least minor self-doubt during the first few weeks of a new job, but it usually fades quickly. You might have difficulty getting past that stage and realizing that you have done excellent work. Coming to terms with the idea that you are good at your job can be difficult if you have low self-confidence or a decreased sense of self-worth. 

Imposter Syndrome and Continuing Recovery 

Imposter syndrome can directly impact your continuing recovery because it increases the stress and pressure you feel at work, and chronic stress is a known risk factor for relapse. Past substance misuse can also lower your stress threshold, making it more difficult for you to function when feeling emotional distress. According to the New York Academy of Sciencesstress “impairs executive functions like working memory and self-control,” which can directly affect your ability to accomplish tasks at work. You can successfully overcome imposter syndrome using a variety of methods, including psychotherapy and self-improvement exercises. 

4 Ways to Increase Your Self-Esteem 

One of the most direct ways to overcome feelings related to imposter syndrome is by improving your self-esteem and self-confidence. The more you feel at ease with your abilities and productivity, the easier it will be to accept that you have earned your workplace achievements. Below are four ways to improve your self-esteem. 

  1. Make a list of professional, personal, and educational accomplishments. Keep the list somewhere you can see it every day, and practice telling yourself that your hard work and determination made those achievements possible.
  2. Write down negative self-statements like “I am terrible at my job” or “I only succeeded because others help me,” and then answer the following questions:
    • What is the evidence for or against it?
    • Is the statement extreme or exaggerated?
    • Does it focus on only one part and leave out other relevant information?
    • Is it based on feelings or facts?
  3. Try to start every day by saying something positive about yourself and end each night by reminding yourself of something you feel proud of or did well that day.
  4. Use self-care to increase your self-confidence. Taking care of your emotional, mental, and physical well-being can help you feel a greater sense of self-worth.

How to Cope With Imposter Syndrome at Work  

Treatment programs for substance misuse at facilities like White House Recovery and Detox use various methods, including talk therapy and behavior modification, to stabilize and maintain mental and emotional health. The focus of therapy is often SUD symptoms and not unrelated conditions which means you may have lingering self-doubt and uncertainty when you return to the workplace. You can cope with imposter syndrome at work by using the following resources:

  • Community-based self-help groups
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Alternatives therapies to decrease stress like yoga, acupuncture, or animal therapy

Your support system can also help you cope with imposter syndrome by pointing out ways you have successfully navigated work and recovery. Trust individuals in your support system to give you an accurate view of your accomplishments.

You Deserve to Be Acknowledged

You deserve acknowledgment for your dedication and hard work. Even when you feel doubts about your self-worth, allow yourself to accept the kindness of others. With time, as you continue to practice increasing your self-esteem, it will become easier to think positively about yourself and the skills you have worked hard to develop in the workplace.  

Everyone experiences moments of self-doubt at work or in other social situations. Part of being human is questioning your decisions and wondering if you could have done things differently. However, when that self-doubt becomes obsessive or disruptive at work or in your relationships, you might need help changing your thinking patterns. The feeling that you are fooling others into believing you have excellent work skills, known as imposter syndrome, is a common issue faced by a large percentage of the population. Imposter syndrome is caused primarily by low self-worth and problems with self-esteem. You can choose to change the way that you think about yourself. At White House Recovery and Detox, we believe you deserve to feel positive about what you have achieved using well-earned skills. We offer psychotherapy and other methods of treatment to improve self-confidence and self-efficacy during rehabilitation. Learn more about our services by calling us today at (800) 510-5393.